Discussion: Folk and Popular Cultures

To kick off this discussion, please view the short video, Mixed Emoticons then come back to this discussion. Wow! Talk about a popular culture phenomenon! Unless we've been living in a cave for the past 20 years, we all know how technology has changed our lives especially the Internet, e-mail, and all the cool things we can do with a cell phone or tablet in the palm of our hands. Grab a pencil and make a list of 10 pop culture trivia topics (i.e., tv shows, music, etc.). When you're done with that list, make one with 10 folk culture trivia topics (i.e., certain regional music types). Which list was easier to make? Why?

I had about an equally hard time with both lists. In the long run, I think it would be easier to come up with pop culture topics, as we are bombarded with pop culture every day, where we either have to seek out folk cultures that we don't participate in, OR we don't notice the folk cultures that we do participate in because they seem like "that's just the way things are."

Describe a personal habit and/or custom that you follow that we would not consider a pop culture trait. Where did the habit and/or custom originate?

I like to go around barefooted. If I could, I would do almost everything barefoot! This habit originated from my mom who also likes to go barefoot. I grew up wearing shoes as little as possible, and as we know, a lot of your habits that you gain as a kid follow you into adulthood, and then you pass them on to your own kids. I *think* my mom's grandma was also a bare-footer ... it was something she was proud of ... I remember my mom telling me stories about her and her feet :-)

Explain a distinctive food or clothing preference that you and your family have and trace its origins to a folk hearth. If you don't have a distinct food or clothing preference, use an example that you've seen or heard about other than what is mentioned in the chapter.

In my family we frequently ate what we called Goulash. It's not too close to actual Hungarian Goulash, but it's made using the same principle ... throw together everything you've got into a big pot and that's what's for dinner.

My father's mother's first husband was born in Bulgaria, and he taught her "how to cook real food, like my mama". She kept making goulash even after they divorced, and my dad passed it on to us (I swear it's the only thing he really cooks ... mexican food = goulash with taco seasoning and tortillas ... chinese food = goulash with ginger and rice :D ).

The Internet, especially components of it such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, has radically changed the diffusion patterns of both folk and popular cultures. Give and support an argument for how the Internet might help preserve or even expand some folk elements. What would those elements be? Give a specific example of a place on Earth and the people that inhabit that place whose customs have benefited or been negatively influenced by the technology advancements of pop culture.

YouTube is an amazing way to document and share all sorts of cultural artifacts. I've watched videos explaining how to make a bow, how to cook food in certain ways, I've watched videos of tribes in the mountains of Central America ... Video is a more dynamic and expressive medium for transmitting culture than words or pictures (second only to actually being there (for now! future technology will eventually come along that's even more immersive)).

In Tokyo, the street vendors used to fill the streets with delicious (if you're Japanese!) foods and tasty treats. In the 1970s, the popularity of convenience stores and vending machines rose, and eventually replaced most of these vendors. Street vending had been around since the Edo Period (1600s - 1800s), and many were sad to see them disappear because of the new technologies and an interest in the new western food culture.


Lastly, describe one activity of pop culture that you engage in on a regularly basis and evaluate its impact on the environment. What might a folk cultural alternative to your activity be?
Your map exercise this week introduces you to Australia which is the home of one of the most historically-relevant cultures on the globe today. The Aborigines of that continent to the Amish of Pennsylvania are distinct because of their contribution to history and present-day society. Think of other folk societies and consider the ways their cultures have each been both negatively and positively impacted by pop culture.

I like to text on my phone to my friends while I am at work or otherwise not able to communicate directly. On the face, texting doesn't have a huge environmental impact BEYOND using cell phones for calling. Cell phones all told though, are a different story. There is the impact of creating the phone, the cell towers, upkeep, batteries, and so on. On the other, other hand, many people are using cell phones rather than computers, which take up more landfill space, etc.

I think that a lot of our technological activities have the makings of new folk culture ... they just aren't old enough yet! A folk cultural alternative to this activity could be writing notes, leaving messages where the other person can find them ... but these aren't tied to a specific culture. If I researched, I might be able to point to an actual folk culture activity that would fall into those lines.

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